Fall color trips to Bearskin Lodge

 

Fall is one of the best times to travel to  the Gunflint Trail.  It’s a very quiet time of year here.

We have a long, extended  color season in NE Minnesota due to the various climate zones. The climate is warmer near Lake Superior, so the leaves along the North Shore change later; as you gain altitude driving up the Gunflint Trail to Bearskin, cooler temps create earlier fall color changes.

Color usually peaks during the last week of September on East Bearskin Lake, but the color begins to change in spots along the Gunflint Trail almost as soon as September starts–there are often bits of color even during the last week of August. On the Minnesota map below, Bearskin is located near the top of Zone 2.  No matter where you’re starting from, the drive all the way  to Bearskin will offer a variety of vibrant foliage for most of the fall season.

There is a commonly held belief that the weekend closest to October 1 will be the peak.  As a result, that weekend can be obscenely busy all along the North Shore. It’s true that the color is usually nice, but the trade-off is a quantity of people everywhere that might take some of the fun out of your trip.  You are always going to have a better fall trip if you can travel mid-week, and indeed in our experience the real “peak” has never fallen on the weekend. You will also have a nicer fall trip if you can avoid traveling home on Sunday afternoon on any fall weekend.  Come Thursday, leave Monday, and you’ll never even notice there were busy days in between.  For enjoyable fall weather, we prefer the weekend before or the weekend after the Oct. 1 busy date. Of course, it never feels busy at Bearskin, but the quality of your trip up here is nicer if there is less traffic.

Colorful leaves usually remain on the trees well into October up here, until the day we get a major windstorm.  After the leafy trees have lost their color, our tamaracks are still displaying vivid shades of orange and yellow for much of the fall. All of fall is beautiful in its own way.

Once the leaves are gone from the trees, some of the best days of fall begin. This is when the wildlife viewing is at its best, because you can see into the woods so much more.  Moose are very active and often are much more visible.  Grouse are everywhere. It’s easier to hear a wolf howl.  And as the leaves fall from the trees, the better visibility of the night sky to the north means that if the Aurora Borealis is active, there are more opportunities to snap a northern lights photo. (We always post updates in the Main Lodge about impending aurora activity, so we’ll let you know if you should be out late with your camera.)

Fall usually becomes winter sometime in November, but we never really know for sure.  We have experienced November with 20 inches of snow and November when the temperatures felt more like early October.  Anything is possible. We consider November to be a great undiscovered secret on the Gunflint Trail, along with May in the spring.  This is when you get the great moose and wildlife pictures, this is when you truly feel the seclusion in our beautiful area.

Dreaming of a fall getaway? Choose your date based on what’s most important for your ideal trip.  If peak color is your primary motivation, the end of September usually is perfect.  It is also, by far, the busiest time  on the entire North Shore, especially during whichever weekend falls closest to October 1.  If your goal is to experience summer-like temps, but with cool nights and no bugs, then choose the end of August or the beginning of September. We always think the nicest summer days occur when everyone imagines summer is “over.”  If you are coming for great hiking and a chance of seeing a moose or other wildlife, all of October is great.

To help you plan, we regularly post availability updates here.  Updates are posted somewhat erratically, but it is an easy way to get a fast, bigger picture of possible availability options.   You can also use the “Check Availability” box in the upper right hand corner of the web page. This is usually accurate within a few days, but doesn’t have the flexibility that arranging dates with an actual human being often has. For the most current info and the best help, call us at (800) 338-4170 or email: stay@bearskin.com   We’ll help you plan a fall trip to remember.